This is another of Film Score Monthlys invaluable restorations from
the Silver Age (the 1960s and 1970s).
There are three recordings of Jerry Goldsmith conducting his Patton score,
including his 1997 Varèse Sarabande album; but, for me, this has to
be the best; it has bite and immediacy. Unlike the new VS recording, this
wonderfully refurbished OST recording (on CD for the first time), features
the original echoplex trumpet sessions meticulously overlaid into the brilliant
studio performance as heard in the film.
The album contains 15 memorable tracks from the 1970 film most of
them dominated by Goldsmiths famous echoed trumpet triplet theme. The
Main Title music played over an empty battle field introduces this theme
with flutes percussion and a sickening-sounding growling figure for brass
as we see vultures devouring the bodies of dead soldiers. In cue two, The
Battle Ground, as Patton pauses to reflect on battles over 1,000 years
ago (he was intensely religious and believed in reincarnation). We hear eerie
glissandi effects with organ underpinings. The material develops into religious
music very much in the Gregorian mode. (I immediately associated this music
with Respighi; and imagery of not only the church but also Rome and its historic
splendours all very apposite to the screenplay and a tribute to the
skills of Goldsmith). This richness and complexity of texture is maintained
throughout the score making us see the paradoxes of war, the glory the pity
and the horror. The famous Hospital sequence, where Patton abuses a shell-shocked
soldier thinking him to be a coward, draws music of such complexity - sympathy
mixed with misplaced brutality. Goldsmiths music carries us forward
through Pattons desert campaign, through to his push towards Berlin.
Contrasting the exhilaration of victory, is the more dissonant music of the
German successes in their winter offensive. The rousing Patton March that
made up the interval music is also included.
Frank DeVols score for The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) while
not as memorable as Patton, is interesting enough. It is romantic and dramatic
and particularly strong on characterisation very important in a film
where clashes of temperament in a hostile environment is a key element in
the screenplay. There is poignancy too in a well-judged inclusion of source
music Connie Francis singing Senza Fine which is heard over the radio
by the mortally wounded Gabriela and the occupants of the wrecked aircraft
that has come down in the Sahara. Another highlight is the tension-filled
music DeVol creates for the preparations for flight and the take-off of the
Phoenix built from the wreckage of the downed plane.
As usual Jeff Bond contributes full articulate track-by-track notes with
observations about the films and the composers. There are also many film
stills in the 16 page booklet